I have had some people question why I am using such old hardware for SETI, but while many of them use their home PC or purchase new "cool" hardware for thousands of dollars, I constructed mine for $25 (mostly wood for the case) and $1 (yes $1) for the CPU.
The entire system fits on about 10.5Mb of ROM but with 256 total, it has expansion room. (Compact Flash if you wonder.) On boot, it copies this rom to RAM and runs entirely on ramdisk. The system actually contains no moving parts less a single cpu fan.
I recompiled the Kernel (based on Mandrake 2005) starting from the abolute most basic form and slowly added tiny components such as serial support (serial console, the system has no mouse, keyboard, or monitor). Since there is no operating system overhead it does a wonderful job at what it does.
I wrote a C program to extrac SETI and system information and display it on the LCD.
I will construct a website dedicated to this shortly if anyone is interested.
Thoughts about SETI and SETI@home
I run SETI@home because I would like to believe we can find something. But honestly, I may switch for Folding@home when they convert to BOINC because the results would be much more immediate and it's research could lead to lives being saved.
For now though, my dedicated box will continue to chug away at WUs proving that it is not just a pile of trash sitting by a curb.